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ANTS

Carpenter Ants & Black Winged Carpenter Ants

Description & Behavior:

Carpenter ant colonies are Polymorphic, meaning that one colony can have ants of differing sizes.  These ants can be as small as 3/16th of an inch, and as large as ¾’ of an inch.   The larger the ants are in a nest, the more mature or established that nest may be.  The Black Carpenter ant (Camponotus, pennsylvanicus) as shown in the above left photo, is the most common household invader in Toronto and throughout the Greater Toronto Area.  Less common, is the red Carpenter ant (Camponotus chromaiodes), as shown in the above right photo. 

 

Carpenter ants construct nests by burrowing into wood.  They dig tunnels called galleries much like termites do.  Although they can burrow through any kind of wood, they prefer soft, dead, damp or rotted wood.   Since Carpenter ants are usually found in wood that has been compromised by water, encountering them in your home is usually an indication of a moisture problem.  If this condition is left untreated, considerable structural damage can occur. 

 

Carpenter ants create two types of nests, the ‘parent or main’ nest and a ‘satellite’ nest.  The main nest is usually established outdoors consisting of thousands of ants. However, when that nest begins to crowd, the ants will often send out scouts to look for a new place to nest.  Once a new site is found, usually in a nearby structure, often YOUR HOME, some of the ants from the main colony will migrate to this new location.  This newly formed colony is called a ‘satellite’ colony, as it is an extension of, and maintains communication with, its ‘parent’ colony.

 

Unlike termites, Carpenter ants do not eat wood, but due to the identical tunneling they create; they are often mistaken for them. While excavating, Carpenter ants will deposit sawdust-like particles, called Frass, outside their nest, which is a clear indication that a nest is nearby.  Although Carpenter ants can be beneficial in your garden since they feed on decaying matter, aphids, and other insects; they are quite a nuisance in your home.  These ants will aggressively forage in your kitchen as they seek their next meal.  

 

For a brief period in the spring and early summer, winged Carpenter ants will swarm in order to mate.  If mating is successful, the queen will shed her wings and will look for an ideal location to start her nest.  A consistently moist environment is crucial for the survival of her eggs.  Although most Carpenter ant nests are found outdoors in decaying railroad ties, tree stumps, or rotting landscape timbers, they can quickly invade your home if they find the right environment.  Once in your home, they become a significant problem, as they are known for their ability to damage wooden structures.

How do I know if I have a nest in my home?

Indoors, Carpenter ant nests can be found in many locations throughout your home such as:

  • wall voids

  • around windows and doors

  • attic spaces

  • basements

 

Outdoors, they can also be found:

  • under siding

  • in porch pillars

  • tunneling through isolation located beneath the stucco of a home.

 

Often, the most obvious sign of a Carpenter ant nest in your home is seeing them walking about in winter and early spring.  Homeowners, on occasion, may also hear a rustling or crackling coming from behind walls as Carpenter ants excavate their nests.  Lastly, finding sawdust or frass in an area of the house is yet another sign.

In the winter, Carpenter ants are usually inactive, however, mild outdoor temperatures as well as warmer nest locations can have workers stirring about in your kitchen and other areas as early as mid January.  This is the most common time to see them indoors as it is still too cold for them to forage outside.

Since only 10% of the ants in a nest are foraging ants, it is not unusual to see only a small number of ants at one time.  Initially, one may only notice as little as 2 or 3 ants in a particular area for a few days or weeks, and then they may seem to disappear.  This should not be ignored!!  Finding them in your home is usually an indication of a satellite nest and more importantly, a moisture problem that will require immediate attention to stop any structural damage from occurring.

 

Prevention / Control:

 The following are steps homeowners can take in order to prevent the nesting of Carpenter ants.

Outdoors:

  • Eliminate rotted or decaying wood in your garden such as railroad ties, tree stumps, decks etc.

  • Trim tree branches that are in contact with cables or wires leading into the home.

  • Store all firewood and lumber as far from your home as possible.

  • Prune trees and branches that are in contact with your home.

 

Indoors:

  • Eliminate high moisture conditions.

  • Repair and/or replace wood compromised by moisture.

Once established in your home, Carpenter ant nests will continue to increase in size, and ants will branch out to excavate sound wood if left untreated.  Since homeowners will often not see evidence of an infestation until the colony is already quite advanced, it is prudent to employ the services of a professional pest control company like Delta Pest Control as soon any activity is seen or a nest is suspected.

Pavement Ants

Description & Behavior:

Pavement ants (Tetramorium caespitum) are dark brown to black in color and are about 2.5-4 mm long.  They are the most commonly encountered house-infesting ants in Toronto and throughout the Greater Toronto Area.  Pavement ants are usually found nesting in soil located under sidewalks, concrete slabs and patio stones.  They deposit small soil or sand piles above ground, as they clear debris from their excavated nests. Pavement ants invade homes, in their search for food and enter through cracks found in foundation walls and interior slabs.  They can also enter homes using cracks and crevices around window and doorframes. 

Homeowners may encounter Pavement ant activity indoors in early spring to late fall.  They will appear inside homes in search of food starting in the spring.  In the summer, these ants will appear after a very heavy rainfall where the ground is saturated or during extremely dry conditions where the ground is dry and they need moisture.  Since a mature Pavement ant nest can range in the hundreds of thousands, once in your home, these ants can become quite a nuisance due to their sheer numbers. If not treated, they can migrate throughout your home making them more difficult to eradicate.

Prevention / Control:

  • Caulk all cracks and crevices around baseboards and doorframes.

  • Keep floors and countertops free of food crumbs.

  • Keep food stored in sealed containers.

Pavement ants will consume almost anything and can contaminate food.  It is therefore advisable to employ the services a pest control company like Delta Pest Control if you notice Pavement ants in your home.

Pharaoh Ants

Description & Behavior:

Pharaoh ants (Monomorium pharaonis) are gold or light brown in color and are almost transparent.  They are extremely small, workers measuring about 1.5 - 2 mm in length.  Pharaoh ants are generally considered the most difficult species of ants to eradicate due to their natural ability to “bud-off’ and form new satellite colonies.  They are able to construct colonies reaching levels of up to 300,000.  These ants nest in wall voids, under floors, inside electrical conduits and are usually seen around water pipes and inside cabinets.

Pharaoh ants are also carriers of over a dozen pathogenic pathogens posing a significant health risk to humans and household pets.  They are commonly found in food-plants, buildings, nursing homes and hospitals.  Although less common in residential buildings and homes, once discovered, infestations should be taken very seriously and immediate measures to control and/or eradicate them should not be delayed.

Prevention / Control:

  • Regularly wipe down kitchen counter-tops so as they are free of any food particles.

  • Keep pantry items, particularly sugars, in sealed containers.

  • Clean up crumbs and spills in dining areas as soon as possible.

Pharaoh ants are a resilient species that are extremely difficult to completely eliminate.  It is therefore advisable to employ the services of a pest control company like Delta Pest Control as soon as any activity is found.

European Fire Ants or Red Ants

Description & Behavior:

European Fire ants (Myrmica rubra) are orange/brown in color, and are only 4 to 5 mm in length.  It is thought that they hitched a ride to North America in the early part of the 20th century via plants or soil shipped from Europe.  Our less severe winters and warmer, humid summers mimic the type of environment these ants thrive in.  Although docile in Europe, experts say they have grown aggressive in their new home and have been known to push out native ant species in the area. 

 

Fire ants nest in anything that maintains a moist environment, such as: meadows, gardens, decaying logs, soil, potted plants, and under rocks and leaf debris.  They have no natural predators, and can spread rapidly creating massive colonies ranging in the hundreds of thousands.  Unlike other ant species that usually have one queen per colony, fire ants have hundreds of queens per colony.  One queen can live for up to 6 or 7 years and produce 1,500 eggs per day.

 

Fire ants can be injurious to humans and pets, as they will swarm invaders in their foraging areas, and inflict a painful sting if disturbed.   Humans have to be particularly cautious, as a fire ant stings can, not only be painful and blistering, but may cause an anaphylactic reaction in some.  Fire ants have wide food preferences, and if left untreated, will spread rapidly.

Prevention / Control:

  • Eliminate all yard debris, and woodpiles.

  • Keep grass cut short.

  • Transfer soil, decaying logs, or yard debris etc. ensuring they are free of ants.

  • Prune trees and branches that are in contact with your home.

  • Drain or remove any stagnant water.

 

If you would like more information on the steps you can take to control a fire ant infestation in and around your home, call Delta Pest Control today!!

Other ants we service:

Argentine ant

Little black ant

Odorous house ants

Acrobat ant

Citronella ants

Thief ants

416-446-0278 or 905-737-1366